It was the new executive’s first week on the job. He had been hired from the outside. Surprisingly, he had no experience working in that company’s field. More surprisingly, he had no experience in an administrative position of any type. Employees assumed that he was only hired because he was a friend of the CEO.
His very first communication with the team came in the form of a very dry memo that he wrote. His secretary emailed the memo to the team members.
In the first paragraph, the new executive outlined his qualifications for the position, claiming that despite the fact that his credentials were not relevant, his efficiency and his aptitude for learning would allow him to succeed in the role.
In the second paragraph, he provided a bullet-point list of his expectations of every team member. The first expectation read: “I expect you to do 100% of your job 100% of the time at the minimum.” Five other statements of general expectations followed. Additional expectations, he wrote, would be announced as needed.
In the final paragraph, the executive thanked the team members for their good work and for their commitment to working with him to improve their work processes from this point forward.
Can you count his mistakes?
One: He introduced himself via a memo. Ideally, he would have been introduced at a full-team meeting, but that isn’t always an option. An email, with a more personal tone, would have been better than a dry memo.
Two: The memo was sent by his secretary from her email account. The email should have been sent by the executive himself. Giving it to his secretary to send suggests that he has a low level of personal investment in the team.
Three: He attempted to justify being hired for the position. Undoubtedly, he knew that team members would see him as having no relevant experience, so he pointed to his skills. However, the only appropriate time to convince others of one’s qualifications is in the hiring process; afterwards, it only looks like self-doubt.
Four: This is the big one. An introduction to one’s subordinates is not the time to list one’s demands of the subordinates. Expectations should be presented at another time and in a more pleasant manner than the executive used. A referent power leader communicates to subordinates in the same manner in which he or she would want to receive communication from one’s own supervisor. The demanding, aggressive tone that the executive used in the memo is hardly what he would want to receive from his supervisor.
Five: The executive closed his initial communication by stating that he looked forward to working with the team members to improve their work processes. Although he might have intended this to be a team-building or esprit-building statement, a team member might interpret this to mean “The quality of your work must improve.” The executive’s introduction to the team should have been strictly a positive communication without any wording that is likely to sound like criticism. Improvement needs should have been raised another day–in team meetings–and in a manner that would be more team-building. I’ll describe such a process for you in my next post.
I count an entire handful of mistakes. (If you seen another one, let me know.)
I can’t help but notice this irony: The executive began his memo by admitting that his credentials were irrelevant to his position and by claiming that his skills would enable him to succeed in the role. However, the entire memo served to prove quite clearly that he lacked the only skills that would have given him a chance of success—skills for leading people.
Skills for leading people develop from understanding human functioning. Your understanding of the psychological principles from APL gives you a great foundation on which to build.
Next time: How to Truly Improve Work Processes